Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will appear tomorrow before a Supreme Court-appointed team probing the Panamagate graft case, an unprecedented development that will make him the first sitting premier to depose before such a panel. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) chief Wajid Zia had summoned the prime minister to appear before the six-member probe team at 11:00 AM (11:30 IST) on June 15 with all documents relevant to the case. Amidst tight security, Sharif will appear before the probing officers at Islamabad’s Judicial Academy – which is temporarily turned into the JIT’s secretariat. The summons was issued to Sharif, 67 after he returned last Saturday from Kazakhstan where he had attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.
In its judgement of April 20 in the Panama Papers case, the Supreme Court had constituted a JIT and empowered it to summon the prime minister, his sons and any other person necessary, to investigate allegations of money-laundering, through which the four apartments in London’s posh Park Lane area were purchased. Sharif has denied any wrongdoing. The Joint Investigation Team had questioned Sharif’s sons — Hussain and Hasan — last month over the family’s alleged improper business dealings. His eldest son Hussain was questioned five times while Hasan, the younger son, was summoned twice. The court last year took up the case and issued a split decision over allegations of money laundering when Sharif was prime minister in 1990s.
On May 5, the Supreme Court set up a high-level six- member JIT to probe Sharif and his sons’ alleged corruption in the Panama Papers case. The JIT is bound to complete the probe in 60 days unless it is granted additional time. It is for the first time that a sitting prime minister would appear before a high-level probe team traditionally constituted to investigate high-profile criminal cases. It is not yet clear that Sharif will be questioned for once or would be called again like his two sons. Media reports had also said that Finance
Minister Ishaq Dar may also be questioned tomorrow by the JIT before Sharif’s appearance. The JIT probing the offshore holdings of Prime Minister Sharif and his children has also summoned his younger brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, to appear before it on June 17.